Review: Lord of Darkness (Maiden Lane, Book 5) by Elizabeth Hoyt

lord of darknessHero: Godric St. John lost his wife to a terrible illness. In order to regain control on his life he heads out into the slums of London as the masked Ghost of St. Giles evading the police while stopping crime. Wrongly accused of the murder for a gent, Godric hasn’t let it bother him, until one night he comes face to face with his new wife and her pistol.

Heroine: Lady Margaret Reading wants a baby, so she’s decided to seduce her older husband, a man she hasn’t seen since her wedding day, into giving her one. The plan is a solid one that will also give her the chance to search for and kill her lover’s murderer, the Ghost of St. Giles.

What happened: Godric married a pregnant Margaret two years prior to the start of the novel when her brother cornered him with the knowledge that Godric was the Ghost. Godric didn’t mind so much installing a bastard babe in his nest because he knew he would never love again after the death of his first wife, but Margaret later miscarried. During the course of their marriage, Godric kept every missive Margaret wrote. She was life itself and Godric was drawn to her… but surely her idea of a babe while frankly stimulating, was an affront to his late wife’s memories? And then Margaret finds out Godric is the Ghost!

Review: This is a romance that brings together two people who have already loved and lost and never thought to love again. Godric is a hero with a lot of depth and I found it amusing that he was horrified at the prospect of bedding his wife…at first anyway, and then he grew to like the idea. ;) A fast-paced, perky, pull-no-punches romp that is highly engaging! Lord of Darkness is a keeper!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Lord of Darkness

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Review: Extreme Measures by Rachel Carrington

extreme measuresReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Stuart O’Malley and Arlin Murphy are found in a cell located at Attica Prison and are planning their escape. Matt Giles’ duty is to try to recapture them. Rachel also lets us know that he has a personal connection to the case.

Erin Prescott is a waitress/owner of a coffee shop. One day at work she sees her ex-husband. There is one scene where Rachel has the couple spending time together and you can just about feel the tension between the two of them.

Rachel does a great job of showing how “nasty” Stuart and Arlin are. She also knows how to build the suspense and that will have you holding your breath. It will also have you wanting to turn the page so that you can find out how everything ends. It goes to show how desperate some people can become and how it can affect the people around them. I also have to wonder the amount of research that needed to be done in order to get all the facts and situations to sound believable.

This is a book with mystery, action, and suspense that starts right from the beginning. If you’re looking for a book that has lots of romance in it, you won’t find it here. But if you want a book that has lots of suspense and then ends with the romance this book is for you. If you have read other books by Rachel this is also a book that you will want to add to that list. I also felt that this is one of those stories that would be great as a movie.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Extreme Measures

Audio Review: Over the Edge (Kincaid Brides, Book 3) by Mary Connealy

over the edgeHero: Seth Kincaid has landed in some very unusual circumstances. He survived a fire, ran off to partake in the Civil War, and apparently got hitched along the way. He just can’t remember it. He wants too, though. Very much.

Heroine: Callie has been praying and searching for her missing husband. Chances are he’s dead. But when she finds out he’s alive, well, you can’t blame her for wanting to wring his neck for abandoning her. The stupid man wants to rekindle their love, but she’s not so sure she can trust him.

Review: You will start this story off with a bang. Literally. You are in the middle of a robbery and a shooting. Callie is one tough cookie. More focus on romance, less on Seth’s secret subplot. In the end it was missing something for me and I just wasn’t enamored.

Narrator: Hillary Huber has a nice range in voices, but it was extremely hard to hear the exposition in Hillary’s natural voice, which is a lower register than the heroine’s voice. It broke the flow for me in a big way and kept drawing me out of the story.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Buy: Over the Edge (The Kincaid Brides Book #3)

Audio Review: The Edge of Desire (Bastion Club, Book 7) by Stephanie Laurens

edge of desireHeroine: Lady Letitia Randall was in love once, but then the left her high and dry when she needed him most. Now to save her brother, Letitia must ask for aid from the same crusty curmudgeon. She’ll seduce him if she must in order to find her brother before the authorities do and to clear his name of her husband’s murder. This gal is determined.

Hero: Christian Allardyce, sixth Marquess of Dearne, didn’t tell Letitia he joined the ranks of Britain’s secret agents to fight Napoleon. He thought she would wait for him, but it turns out she married somebody else and that it was apparently a love match. It’s a betrayal he’ll never forgive, but when she asks for help he can’t refuse.

Review: Do you like reunion romances? Second chance love stories? A little murder mystery? You’ll like this book then! Just avoid the repeated references to Vaux temperament. The mystery is complex (drags a little at times, but interesting as it progresses) and each layer reveals something else about Letitia’s dearly eagerly departed husband. There’s also a big misunderstanding for our hero and heroine to put a nice bow on it.

Narrator: Steven Crossley has a very deep voice and a wonderful British accent. His voice sounds similar on one level to Sean Connery. He says things very precisely.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Edge of Desire (Bastion Club)

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Review: The French Maid by Sabrina Jeffries

The French MaidHeroine: Lady Eleanor Langston doesn’t know how to get her husband to notice her. He’s always busy with politics and while their live is steady and on the surface both seem content, it lacks passion Eleanor truly craves.

Hero: Henry Langston needed a good hostess when he wedded Eleanor. They make love once a week and he’s never cheated. He is unaware of his wife and her discontent. It’s not until Babette, Eleanor’s maid, gets involved that Henry starts to view his wife in a new light.

Review: The love story fairly unique with a couple already married at the start of the story. On one hand, I didn’t like that the heroine needed to transform to gain her husband’s notice – sexually and companionably. On the other hand, I did like that both parties had to work a little harder and/or differently to turn their marriage from one that was basically roommates sharing their lives to lovers sharing their hearts. I did not like Babette, because it’s a little too convenient to have someone instantly get what was going on between the married couple and fix it. She sort of stood in as a fairy godmother/therapist.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Buy: The French Maid

Review: Too Dangerous to Desire (Lords of Midnight, Book 3) by Cara Elliott

Too Dangerous to DesireHeroine: Sophie Lawrance knows passionate love doesn’t always conquer all. It certainly didn’t help her in the past, when she felt it her duty to refuse her heart. Instead of fighting for her, her lover ran away. And it definitely can’t help her now that she is in the middle of a blackmail scheme meant to ruin her father’s reputation and her sister’s happiness. Or can it? Can she trust the pirate with the face of her first love to help?

Hero: Cameron Daggett, the man whose hand in marriage Sophie once rejected, is good at living in the shadows. When his present unexpectedly collides with his past, he has to know what brings her back into his sphere. Her meeting with a shady bloke piques his curiosity and she his passions. His skills as a thief will finally get some good use if he can manage to steal her heart again.

Review: For the record, the nickname Sleuth Hound is not as sexy as Wolfhound. Cam might have been better named Ghost Hound, because he can slip in and out of people’s homes stealing what he most desires. Virtuous ladies’ virtue especially! There are shades of Jane Austen’s Persuasion in the setup of this third book in the Lords of Midnight trilogy. Perfect, if you are in the mood for second chance romance.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Too Dangerous to Desire (Lords of Midnight)

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Review: Mockingjay (Hunger Games Trilogy, Book 3) by Suzanne Collins

Brief Overview: 13 Districts rebelled against the Capitol. 1 was supposedly destroyed while 12 suffered under a harsh treaty for 75 years. Now we’re back at the beginning and once more 13 Districts are rebelling. This time is different though, because this time the rebels have a cause and a face of the revolution: Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire. The Capitol has Peeta, captured from the Quarter Quell, and they wield him like a weapon against Katniss. Can she survive a broken heart?

WTF? No seriously, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot…???

“Are you, are you coming to the tree?
Wear a necklace of rope, side by side with me.
Strange things did happen here.
No stranger would let it be if we met up
At midnight in the hanging tree.”

Wishlist: Katniss needs to sing to Peeta, like a lot and happy songs or songs about hope. Her singing made an impression on him at 5, she should sing that song again! Break down all those shiny memories in one fell swoop. :D

My 10 Favorite Scenes:

Not in order of preference or sequence in book.

  1. Katniss figuring out how Snow is really using Peeta. Angst! Angst! Angst!
  2. Brainwashed Peeta (attacking Katniss). Well, until I realized there’s wasn’t a cure-all for it. Stupid shiny memories.
  3. Real or Not Real. This was a good one…

    “You’re still trying to protect me. Real or not real,” he whispers.

    “Real,” I answer. “Because that’s what you and I do, protect each other.”

  4. Peeta figuring Katniss out. Not that she tries to help him sort it all out. She runs a bit too often for my tastes.

    “Ally.” Peeta says the words slowly, tasting it. “Friend. Lover. Victor. Enemy. Fiancee. Target. Mutt. Neighbor. Hunter. Tribute. Ally. I’ll add it to the list of words I use to try to figure you out. The problem is, I can’t tell what’s real anymore, and what’s made up.”

  5. Peeta trying to remember the truth about them. Can we say ouch? So freaking awesome… the angst!!!

    “I must have loved you a lot.”

  6. Declaration of Love. Such as it was… (who else wanted more to this scene? I did!)

    “You love me. Real or not real?”

    I tell him, “Real.”

  7. Who is Peeta? The most telling sentence Katniss ever said…

    “You’re a painter. You’re a baker. You like to sleep with the windows open. You never take sugar in your tea. And you always double-knot your shoelaces.”

    He also likes the color orange.

  8. Peeta remembers? It looks like it with these sentences but he still comes off as damaged beyond repair in the epilogue. Sniff.

    “Katniss. I remember about the bread.”

    and

    “Let me go!” I snarl at him, trying to wrest my arm from his grasp.

    “I can’t,” he says.

  9. Katniss killing President Coin. Needed. Though, I won’t lie the aftermath of that is pretty confusing. Being trapped in Katniss’ head did not give a big picture view of what was going on outside her impromptu prison/isolation. I bet the movie will do it better.
  10. Katniss and Gale parting. Gale is bitter, but he was not a good match for Katniss. She’d lose herself completely in his hatred. In broken Peeta, perhaps our equally broken Katniss can heal?

Conclusion: The Hunger Games Trilogy is not a romance. It’s a dystopian warfare driven trilogy with romantic elements. If it was a romance, the ending would have been sweeter, Peeta wouldn’t have been brainwashed and his character mutated (I once did this to a fanfic character, oomph, cheated the whole story, so I know what I’m talking about here). He should have been fixed more than he was at the end.

Peeta was the driving force of the romance in the story, because Katniss never truly confessed in a declaration of love (to herself or to Peeta, though she does tap dance around it several times). At least not like how we know them in the romance genre. At best it was halfhearted, and while “Real or Not Real” was good, it could have been better. For example something like, “Real. I love you Peeta and here’s why…” With Katniss blind and resistant from the beginning to her feelings she needed to really open up at some point to Peeta.

“All those months of taking it for granted that Peeta thought I was wonderful are over. Finally, he can see me for who I really am. Violent. Distrustful. Manipulative. Deadly. And I hate him for it.” – Katniss

So in effect, warping Peeta warped the romance. He had all the best lines too between them, which you can see when you check out my favorite scenes between the books.

Also, I get that PTSD would have been prevalent, but romances as we define them in the genre mean a real HEA, where the characters heal each other and not merely survive together (and watch their kids play on top of mass graves… shudder).

“Oh, that I do know…Katniss will pick whoever she thinks she can’t survive without.” – Gale

Additionally, I don’t buy that Katniss would have had children with Peeta. That was a no-go from the get-go.

I feel all this could have been fixed with an additional chapter or longer epilogue. I doubt I am alone in this.

What really needed to be addressed and was never addressed, was Katniss’ statement to Peeta revealing that Haymitch orchestrated the romance on her part during the first Hunger Games. She implied most of it was Haymitch, but not all of it was Haymitch. If Peeta had latched onto that semantic like a pitbull we could have gotten somewhere with her. :P

Final thoughts: So yes, I was disappointed with the romance, but the trilogy is a good one. Peeta makes the series for me, no question. I would reread it for him alone.

Bonus: 74 Books to Read if You Love the Hunger Games

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games Trilogy Boxed Set, The Hunger Games Trilogy (digital)

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Review: Catching Fire (Hunger Games Trilogy, Book 2) by Suzanne Collins

Brief Overview: Against all odds, Katniss and Peeta survived the Hunger Games and became the first ever dual victory. A little hope is a good thing, but too much leads to disaster. President Snow is not happy and he lets Katniss know it. But Katniss has already put her foot in it and alienated Peeta, so there’s no help from that corner. Then the Quarter Quell (every 25 years there’s a special version of the Hunger Games) is announced and it seems once again the rules are changed specifically for District 12’s starcrossed lovers. They’ve got to go back into the arena and this time it doesn’t look like either will be allowed to win.

Fandom Comments:

Team Peeta or Team Gale?

No contest. Team Peeta.

Gale never stood a chance.

Peeta killed Gale’s chances in Hunger Games and then wiped him off the map in Catching Fire. You got to love our boy with bread!

Side comment – Capitol sensibilities sound like the Romans’ again with their feasting parties where it’s natural to puke to make room for more gorging on the provided banquet of food. A tour guide called the Roman “puke rooms” vomitoriums when I was at a Roman site in Turkey last year, but I think they had the wrong word? Because the definitions I find online of the word mean an opening that allows a hoard of people to fast exit a building. Anyway, back to the point, Romans (and the Capitol) lived to eat and Katniss and Peeta are horrified by that, because to them, you should eat to live.

What I didn’t like – Katniss and Peeta’s show and tell with the Gamemakers. Really? Peeta, I get to an extent because he can paint like nobody’s business, but why Rue? Rue was Katniss’ friend and not his. I also think Katniss should have shot the arrow at the Gamemakers again through the force field chink, even if doing so messed up the setup for the Quarter Quell. She was smart enough to do it. Why a dead dummy of Senaca Cane? Honestly.

My Top 10 Favorite Scenes from the Hunger Games:
Not necessarily in order (either by preference or in sequence with events in the book)…

  1. Katniss can shoot! When all the tributes watch her with the bow and arrows during training and then want to team up with her for the games. Pretty funny, especially because Katniss doesn’t want the victors who could help her win, she wants the rejects.
  2. Rooftop Picnic. And cuddling on the train. And hungry kisses.
  3. Finnick Giving Peeta CPR. Katniss thought he was kissing Peeta and is so confused. Haha.

    I pull an arrow, whip the notch into place, and am about to let it fly when I’m stopped by the sight of Finnick kissing Peeta. And it’s so bizarre, even for Finnick.

  4. Katniss realizing Haymitch lied about saving Peeta:

    “We had to save you because you’re the mockingjay, Katniss,” says Plutarch. “While you live, the revolution lives.”

    The bird, the pin, the song, the berries, the watch, the cracker, the dress that burst into flames. I am the mockingjay. The one that survived despite the Capitol’s plans. The symbol of the rebellion. It’s what I suspected in the woods when I found Bonnie and Twill escaping. Though I never really understood the magnitude. But then, I wasn’t meant to understand.

    I think of Haymitch’s sneering at my plans to flee District 12, start my own uprising, even the very notion that District 13 could exist. Subterfuges and deceptions. And if he could do that, behind his mask of sarcasm and drunkenness, so convincingly and for so long, what else has he lied about? I know what else.

    “Peeta,” I whisper, my heart sinking.

  5. Peeta and Katniss on the beach.

    “Because I don’t want you to forget how different our circumstances are. If you die and I live, there’s no life fore me at all back in District Twelve. You’re my whole life,” he says. “I would never be happy again.”

    I start to object but he puts a finger to my lips.

    “It’s different for you. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be hard. But there are other people who would make your life worth living.”

  6. Before the Quarter Quell when Katniss knows she will grieve Peeta, if he dies.

    “No one really needs me,” he says, and there is no self-pity in his voice.

    It’s true his family doesn’t need him. They will mourn him, as will a handful of friends. But they will get on. Even Haymitch, with the help of a lot of white liquor, will get on. I realize only one person will be damaged beyond repair if Peeta dies. Me.

    “I do,” I say. “I need you.”

    He looks, takes a deep breath as if to begin a long argument, and it’s no good, no good at all, because he’ll start going on about Prim and my mother and everything and I’ll just get confused. So before he can talk, I stop his lips with a kiss.

  7. Peeta’s nightmares:

    “Peeta, how come I never know when you’re having a nightmare?” I say.

    “I don’t know. I don’t think I cry out or thrash around or anything. I just come to, paralyzed with terror,” he says.

    “You should wake me,” I say, thinking about how I can interrupt his sleep two or three times on a bad night. About how long it can take to calm me down.

    “It’s not necessary. My nightmares are usually about losing you,” he says. “I’m okay once I realize you’re here.”

  8. When Haymitch says to Katniss…

    “You know, you could live a thousand lifetimes and not deserve him.”

  9. Katniss against the World, Protecting Peeta. She knows she has to kill Peeta to keep him from being tortured by the Capitol, after they’re taken out of the arena. When she comes across Haymitch and he says…

    “So it’s you and a syringe against the Capitol? See, this is why no one lets you make the plans.”

  10. Peeta’s interview on TV. He’s so good at these.

    “But I have to confess, I’m glad you two had at least a few months of happiness together.”

    I’m not glad,” says Peeta. “I wish we had waited until the whole thing was done officially.”

    This takes even Caesar aback. “Surely even a brief time is better than no time?”

    ”Maybe I’d think that, too, Caesar,” says Peeta bitterly, “If it weren’t for the baby.”

What are your favorite moments from Hunger Games?

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games Trilogy Boxed Set, The Hunger Games Trilogy (digital)

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